kingdom S ancient Palestine ∗ Jerusalem — see israel
One of the 12 tribes of Israel, descended from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. The tribe of Judah entered Canaan with the other Israelites after the escape from Egypt and settled in the region south of Jerusalem. It eventually became the most powerful tribe, producing the kings David and Solomon, and it was prophesied that the messiah would come from among its members. After the 10 northern tribes were dispersed by the Assyrian conquest of 721 BC, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were left as the sole inheritors of the Mosaic covenant. Judah flourished until 586 BC, when it was overrun by the Babylonians and many of its people were carried into exile. Cyrus II allowed them to return in 538 BC, and the Temple of Jerusalem was rebuilt. The history of Judah from that time forward is the history of the Jews and Judaism. The kingdom of Judah was succeeded by Judaea.